A direct provision accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Co. Westmeath
Brian O’Connell was on the Today With Seán O’Rourke show this morning talking about how some female asylum seekers – some as young as 18 or 19 and who had just completed their Leaving Certificate – are selling themselves for sex.
He did not report anyone’s name or give any location as to where this is taking place.
Some of the women are in the Direct Provision system for five, six or seven years, and did not take part in prostitution before they came to Ireland.
He said the women, who receive €19.10 from the State a week, are not allowed work or go to college, usually earn €20 or €50 for sex.
Mr O’Connell said it is mostly young single mothers who are engaging in prostitution but he said there are some married women who do this without their husband’s knowledge.
He said men usually approach the women outside the centre, on the street, with one woman telling him she was approached at the Post Office. The men also come to the direct provision centres, and don’t usually find any difficulty entering the premises, or they park outside the centres and the women go out to meet them.
Mr O’Connell spoke to one young mother about the first time she received money for sex. She was in a car on a street.
She told him:
“In myself, I had no choice, also because I know that I cannot afford anything. So I just had to do it as well.”
The woman, who is now living in her third Direct Provision centre, said it is her understanding that there are women at all the centres she has lived in taking part in prostitution.
Another mother told Mr O’Connell:
“Most of us engage ourselves in prostitution because we have no choice. Some women they are married, they are living with their husbands but they do it because they have no choice. Most people I know, a lot of people, they engage…I know most girls, some of them, they finished the Leaving Cert last year or 2012, they are there, they have nothing to do. Poor girls, they have to engage themselves into prostitution.”
“It’s not organised. It’s just, I think we do it out of desperation and some people also, they know that we are in that situation, we are in Direct Provision, they just take us for granted. They just, like where I live, it’s along the road, people come, they park their cars outside there, we are just coming out, they’re like ‘how much?’. It’s like we have no dignity. Like we have lost ourselves in almost everything.”
Mr O’Connell also visited two centres and spoke to about a dozen male and female residents and each of them verified, independently, the fact that some women were getting paid for sex.
One woman, who spoke to Mr O’Connell along with her husband – and who does not take part in prostitution – said she believed the women sold themselves for sex because they only earn €19.10 a week. She said she herself has been stopped on the road by white men who ask her, ‘How much are you?’.
Later, Fiona Finn, CEO of Nasc Ireland, told the show that, from the group’s experience, asylum seeking women in Direct Provision centres across Ireland are engaging in prostitution to supplement the €19.10 they get a week.
Listen back here
Previously: Why All The Secrecy?